Did anyone watch "Survivor" last Thursday? I was so happy when they advertised the Phile. Look. I took a picture of the TV screen.
The author, Christian Cawley, will be a guest on the Phile soon. You can purchase the book from kasterborous.com.
Today's guest is singer from New York who records under the name CodeCracker, whose is now available on iTunes. Please welcome to the Phile... JJ Brine.
Me: Hello, JJ, welcome to the Phile, man. How are you?
JJ: Great. Glad to be here!
Me: Okay, do I call you JJ or CodeCracker? What code are you trying to crack?
JJ: You can call me JJ. I can't really say what kind of code I'm cracking. That would be doing all of the work for you!
Me: In the past on the Phile I have interviewed quite people who are single artists but go by band names. I could never figure out why artists do that, and not go by their real names. And I never get an answer that makes sense to me, JJ. Please explain why you released an and perform under a band name.
JJ: Because I knew that CodeCracker would expand and develop over time, I wanted the name to reflect something broader than my own. My sister Chloe is joining me for the next album, "ESM". So now CodeCracker is a duo. When it comes to CodeCracker, nothing is certain except that I'll be involved.
Me: You do have a band when you do live shows I am guessing, right? Is it the same band that plays on the album?
JJ: The first album was produced by me and an extremely talented artist by the name of Peter Litvin. He does participate in the live shows occasionally but not always.
Me: I am such a dumbass... when I saw the album cover I thought there was a bunch of different guys, that realized it was all you. Was that your idea to trick people? I am guessing I am the only one not to figure it out.
JJ: It has certainly never occurred to me to trick anyone! But actually, those are four different guys on the cover. Look closely and you'll see what I mean.
Me: Your album has some joyful tunes on it, with upbeat music, until you listen to the words. You made a really dark album, JJ. With songs like "We're All Going to Hell", "I'm Ending the Universe" and my personal favorite "I'll Dig You Up And Fuck You". What were you thinking of when you wrote that song?
JJ: People think it's a pretty straightforward song. I certainly wouldn't spend a lot of time analyzing it.
Me: Your album is very political with a few religious undertones. Are you a political and religious person?
JJ: I'm a fanatic on both counts. But I'll let the music convey that rather than delving into personal views, which may change at any given moment. And I certainly can't speak for Chloe and right now she doesn't do interviews.
Me: Where are you from, JJ? Listening to your album I was thinking you were from Europe, but you are America, right?
JJ: I'm not sure that it matters so much. Wherever I am from, I don't live there now and I certainly don't identify with it.
Me: You lived for a while in the Middle East, which to me is crazy. What made you go and live over there? Did you go by yourself?
JJ: I went over there by myself, yes. I just had to go because I fell in love with it from afar. I had to consummate the romance.
Me: And tell the readers this story: you were kidnapped in Beirut? What the fuck happened?
JJ: I visited a mosque in the southern suburbs of Beirut with a Muslim friend. He took a photo of me and that raised suspicions because of the sensitive security situation between Lebanon and Israel. All of our belongings were confiscated, our heads were covered with bags, and we were transported to a building in an undisclosed location. We were escorted up a staircase and propped up against a wall. I heard a gun being loaded and then I gave them the reaction I presume they were looking for. They took us inside and seated us in a small room. They removed our hoods but there wasn't much to see. The room had little more than white walls and a one-way mirror; they could see us but we couldn't see them. They asked us tons of questions and lit my cigarettes through a small cubby-hole when I wanted to smoke. They gave us mango juice, which was pleasant. At the end they determined that we weren't conducting a reconnaissance mission so they covered our faces again, drove us around in circles to disorient us, and dropped us off at a gas station. Quite a day.
Me: Would you ever go back over there?
JJ: I would and I will.
Me: JJ, what is next? You have a second album coming out called "ESM" that you said. What does ESM stand for?
JJ: It stands for Electronic Spirit Music. It'll be available this month. It's quite different from the first album. We're very pleased with it.
Me: JJ, thanks so much for being on the Phile. Would you come back again, my friend? I feel you have a lot of stories to tell and you seem very intelligent. Why don't you go and plug your website, man?
JJ: Thanks for having me. I would be glad to come back for another interview! You can find our website at www.codecracker.com and tracks from our new album on my myspace profile: www.myspace.com/jjbrine.
Me: All the best, and take care.
JJ: You too!
That does look all like him, doesn't it? I am so confused. Anyway, that about does it for another entry of the Phile. Thanks to JJ for doing and special thanks to Wesley-Anne Bock-Nelson from Ariel Publicity for hooking it up. The Phile will be back next Sunday with two very talented brothers Sam and Luke. Until then, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.